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Laurie Colwin’s Bread

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I didn’t mean to be gone for so long, promise. As always, must try harder.

Anyway, let’s get to business – to the here and now: late November, deep frost, half-broken fairy lights, cup of tea resting on a pile of books, and a half-demolished panettone. That’s current-Alice in a nutshell. Nothing too exciting, but I’m still here – cooking, copywriting, reading, not reading enough, eating, studying, and counting down the days until I can listen to Christmas music without a tinge of guilt. So yes, the usual stuff.

To be honest, before I sat down to write this evening, I realised that I don’t really have anything interesting to tell you. Or at least there’s no photographic evidence of the interesting things. It turns out that my most recent photos are a) not at all recent and b) mostly of vaguely aesthetically pleasing things I’ve noticed around the house. And importantly, none of them (bar the ones you can see in this post) are of food. A sorry state of affairs.

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This problem, I’ve decided, might be solved by taking a Kitchen Diaries approach to the blog for the month of December (a la Nigel Slater). This means writing up some field notes from the kitchen every couple of days or so. Sort of like a series of culinary vignettes, with some festive sparkle thrown in for good measure. I’m planning on starting on the 1st December, so please check back soon.

Now then, let’s turn to this loaf of bread, baked a few weeks ago and the only edible thing to grace my camera lens in months. It’s a plain white farmhouse loaf. Soft, airy, unbelievably good; a simple pleasure before the whirlwind of December feasting.dsc_1081

The recipe comes courtesy of the late Laurie Colwin and it is, without a doubt, the most forgiving loaf you’ll ever make. She instructs you to put the dough in a warm place and forget about it. Entirely. Go to work, watch a film, arse around on the internet. Just erase the memory of bread making from your memory. Laurie promises that when you finally remember to pop it in the oven you’ll have the perfect loaf of bread. And of course, she’s entirely correct.

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Laurie Colwin’s Bread (adapted by me)

  • 33cups unbleached white flour
  • 1teaspoon salt, heaping
  • 1tablespoon wheat germ (or corn germ)
  • 12teaspoon yeast (or one sachet of instant yeast)
  • 34cup milk
  • 34cup water
  1. In a large bread bowl mix the flour and salt.
  2. Mix the yeast with the liquids. You may use more water than milk to equal 1 1/2 cups, if desired.
  3. Pour the liquid into the flour and stir. The dough should not be dry or sticky, but tend to sticky. If too sticky, add a little more flour.
  4. Knead the dough well, roll in flour, and put in a warm bow. Leave in a cool, draft-free place and go about your day.
  5. When you get home, punch down the dough and knead it well. Roll again in flour and forget it until convenient.
  6. Sometime later, punch dough down again. Give it a final kneading. Shape into a baguette, slash the top with four diagonal cuts, brush with water and let proof for a few minutes, if you have the time.
  7. Bake at 450 for 30 minutes (remembering to add a splash of water to the bottom of the oven to create steam). Turn the oven to 425 and bake another 20 minutes.

 

 

 

 

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